Background: Women with pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain (PPGP) report diminished ability to perform physical activities and experience higher rates of mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression, than pregnant women without PPGP. Despite these physical and psychological impacts, little is known about the lived experiences of PPGP amongst Australian women and the ways in which they cope. Situated within biographical disruption and social support theories, this study sought to gain a conceptual understanding of the experience and impact of PPGP on daily life, and how women cope with this condition during pregnancy. Methods: A qualitative research design, situated within a phenomenological framework, using individual, semi-structured interviews consisting of open-ended questions was used with a flexible and responsive approach. Purposive sampling of pregnant women attending a single hospital included 20 participants between 14 and 38 weeks gestation, classified with PPGP as per recommended guidelines, with a mean (SD) age of 31.37 (4.16) years. Thematic analysis was performed where interview data was transcribed, coded, grouped into meaningful categories and then constructed into broad themes. Results: Three themes were identified: 1. a transformed biography; 2. coping strategies; and 3. what women want. The pain experienced created a dramatic change in women’s lives, making the pregnancy difficult to endure. Women utilised social support, such as family, to help them cope with pain, and a self-care approach to maintain a positive mindset and reduce stress. Although a few women received support from healthcare professionals, many reported a lack information on PPGP and limited societal recognition of the condition. Women wanted early education, personalised information and prompt referral to help them cope with PPGP. Conclusions: Findings from this study highlighted the complexity of living with PPGP as women attempted to deal with the unexpected impact on daily life by seeking support from partners and families, while also struggling with societal expectations. Although women with PPGP used a number of coping strategies, they sought greater support from healthcare professionals to effectively manage PPGP. These findings have important implications for the provision of health care to women living with PPGP. Trial registration: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN12618001423202.
- Pelvic girdle pain